Monday, November 25, 2013

Brazilians Get 4 Weeks Extra World Cup Holiday

Fuleco, aka. Tatu Bola is the official World Cup mascot. He will not get any holiday during FIFA 2014. 

So, it is official. Brazil has gone mad.

Not only will the country with the financially challenged economy host both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, the government will now also give citizens up to four weeks of holiday during the World Cup! Imagine the cost to the economy of that.

The federal government has declared general law (The Law of World Cup, Article 56) and passed on the power to decide on the extent of the holiday during the World Cup to each and every state (there are twenty-six states (estado) and one federal distric (distrito federal)), according to the newspaper Globo.

Some of the states (Rio Grande do Norte, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo) have already decided to give citizens the full month as holiday, except for two working days. Other states have yet to decide. And I can only guess that workers elsewhere will demand the same.

- Mom, he got candy. I want some too!

Simple psychology, really.

The text of the law doesn't even limit the power to declare holidays to the states. As it says in the law, according to Google translate, "The Union, the States, the Federal District and the Municipalities that will host events may declare holidays the days of its occurrence in its territory". Four bodies of government? That is pretty much anyone. It ought to be an easy decision for a governor or a mayor who wants a little bit of short-lived World Cup glory.

And they already have 30 days holiday. Plus...
The normal holiday in Brazil is already a hefty 30 working days. Plus (yes, there is even a plus) religious holidays! Then again, if you are to define anything as religion in this country, it's got to be football. I am surprised that the Jesus statue overlooking Rio hasn't been replaced by one of Pele. It may only be a matter of time. I almost forgot. There's even one more plus. Additional non-religious holidays. Maybe I should move to Brazil...

18 extra days off is a 60% increase. I’d be pretty happy being an employee. I’d be rather mad if I were an employer. Then again, I might not be happy for long as an employee. The risk is that the employer will go bankrupt. The Brazilian economy is already in trouble.

The football (read as soccer, dear American friends) competition which takes place from June 12 to July 13 next year is estimated to cost 15 billion USD! But the organizers are in a hurry, and the government is desperate to not have everything go smoothly. Or the Olympic summer games two years later may be in jeopardy too.

So the price tag will probably increase a lot, due to a lack of time. You won't exactly have time to release tenders or arrange bidding contests.

Any chance of a little bit of FIFA corruption, there? Famous former Brazilian national footballer Romario certainly calls faul play. He even goes as far as calling FIFA President Sepp Blatter "a thief" and secretary general Jerome Valcke "a blackmailer", accoring to Winnipeg Free Press.

"Brazilian authorities shouldn't trust (Valcke) when signing any deal related to the World Cup", Ronaldo said. He won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994. He certainly is older, more experienced and far more outspoken now.

I doubt that the real books are entirely open when it comes to how infrastructure was built, by whom and how much they charged.

How to afford it?
The Economist has not yet, to my knowledge, written about sending the entire country away on holiday, but the newspaper is worried about Brazil's economy in general.

"...the country has come back down to earth with a bump." The Economist states and refers to the fantastic growth of 7.5% in 2010. Last year the economy barely grew at all. By 0.9%. 15 billion USD for a football competition, and much more for the most expensive holiday ever may not be the best of cures.

Four years ago one of the newspaper's artists put a rocket on the Jesus statue in Rio to illustrate economic growth. That rocket may now have misfired. Not many months have passed since hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in unprecedented demonstrations. They complained about greed, corruption and services that don't match the high living costs.

President Dilma Rousseff is not the most popular woman in town. I am not sure if giving four weeks of extra holiday is the way to go. Even though the presidential elections are coming up. Coincidentally in October, after the World Cup.

So, should you worry about more protests during the World Cup, now when so many people are out on the streets with nothing to do during their holidays? I don't think the stadiums can hold 200 million people, so there may be some drunk, broke and angry football fans out and about. Well, rest assured. Ricardo Trade, the CEO of the World Cup has asked any potential protesters to not hurt the tourists, according to The Raw Story. I guess you'll be just fine, then.